Obesity and Media

Obesity is a major health problem all over the world. Today the obesity rate is much higher than malnutrition worldwide. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese, whereas 462 million are underweight. If immediate action is not taken to take care of the obesity problem, then the future of human health may be in real danger. Obesity related illnesses are also becoming a huge public health concern for the world. However, most of the time when obesity is discussed one of the most important factors never takes place during discussions: The role of Media!                                                                                                                                 

When we talk about media, we definitely have to consider the effects of social media as well. Social media is worse than the regular media in terms of advertisements because most of the time the celebrities, celebrity doctors, dietitians, life coaches, social media moms and etc., advertise products and claim that they are using them whereas in reality they are paid for it. And some of them have thousands or millions of followers. However, the followers don’t realize that these are hidden advertisements. Most of the time they claim that they lose weight with a certain product or diet to lure their followers into buying these products. Hidden advertising is especially very common on Instagram and YouTube. When we watch TV at least we know that it is advertising and we can make our decisions accordingly. 

Around the whole world especially in terms of celebrity doctors on TV and other media sources we constantly see the same faces. If you don’t work with a Public Relations agent, you have no chance of being heard. This is the reality of the world we live in. If we don’t take immediate action against the media, the voice of scientists in the area of obesity will never be heard by the public. People will prefer to follow Hollywood celebrities who have web sites, social media and YouTube accounts that tell people what to eat and what not to eat rather than following the advice of the doctors or dietitians.

According to The World Health Organization worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975 and it continues to increase.

The studies show that long hours spent on social media may cause depression and depression plays a role in obesity. The link between depression and obesity needs to be taken into consideration as well.                                                                                             

The latest studies show that when people constantly see appetizing food pictures which is also called “food porn” there is an increase in their feeling of hunger, and they tend to overeat compared to people who are not exposed to food porn. In response to images of appetizing food, the researchers found out that the key areas of the brain involved with visual and reward processing, emotion, learning, and decision-making are activated. Even though the person is not hungry he or she is prompted to eat after seeing an appetizing food picture because there is an increase in the ghrelin hormone, which causes hunger.                                            

In recent years there has been an increase in the food programs on TV, Instagram and YouTube. People are constantly exposed to food, both healthy and unhealthy, which forces them to think about food constantly. Even regular people started to take pictures of what they eat and post it on social media. Nowadays, one of the biggest trends is having cooking classes for the kids. Most of these classes are taught by mothers who decided to become chefs after having children with no education in the field of nutrition. Media loves these mothers also so called “social-media moms” because these mothers usually come from wealthy families. They are able to buy followers on social media, pay TV channels to take place on TV shows, publish books and hire a public relations agent to promote their books and even pay newspapers to have an interview in print. Thus, the publishers love them since they don’t have to do anything to sell the books. The media loves them because earning money through them is easy.                                                                                         

People who are educated in the field of nutrition are rarely invited to TV shows (if we are lucky). They are not a good source of income. The media wants people who can act great shows on TV rather than trying to give proper messages to the public. According to one study, children who watch food shows on TV crave more food and use more sugar compared to the children who do not watch food shows.